nep-soc New Economics Papers
on Social Norms and Social Capital
Issue of 2021‒11‒01
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”

  1. Revenge of the experts: Will COVID-19 renew or diminish public trust in science? By Eichengreen, Barry; Aksoy, Cevat Giray; Saka, Orkun
  2. Past Exposure to Macroeconomic Shocks and Populist Attitudes in Europe By Gavresi, Despina; Litina, Anastasia
  3. Intergenerational transmission in regulated professions and the role of familism By Omar Bamieh; Andrea Cintolesi
  4. Perceptions and Preferences for Redistribution By Stefanie Stantcheva
  5. You Are Who You Eat With: Academic Peer Effects from School Lunch Lines By Presler, Jonathan
  6. Information and Immigrant Settlement By Toman Barsbai; Victoria Licuanan; Andreas Steinmayr; Erwin Tiongson; Dean Yang
  7. Citizens' Confidence in Government and Inefficient Public Spending. Is there a Trust Trap? By Eduardo de Sá Fortes Leitão Rodrigues
  8. Reciprocity or community: Different cultural pathways to cooperation and welfare By Anna Gunnthorsdottir; Palmar Thorsteinsson

  1. By: Eichengreen, Barry; Aksoy, Cevat Giray; Saka, Orkun
    Abstract: It is sometimes said that an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be heightened appreciation of the importance of scientific research and expertise. We test this hypothesis by examining how exposure to previous epidemics affected trust in science and scientists. Building on the "impressionable years hypothesis" that attitudes are durably formed during the ages 18-25, we focus on individuals exposed to epidemics in their country of residence at this particular stage of the life course. Combining data from a 2018 Wellcome Trust survey of more than 75,000 individuals in 138 countries with data on global epidemics since 1970, we show that such exposure has no impact on views of science as an endeavor but that it significantly reduces trust in scientists and in the benefits of their work. We also illustrate that the decline in trust is driven by the individuals with little previous training in science subjects. Finally, our evidence suggests that epidemic-induced distrust translates into lower compliance with health-related policies in the form of negative views towards vaccines and lower rates of child vaccination.
    Keywords: Epidemics, Impressionable years, Scientists, Trust, Immunization, Vaccine Related, Clinical Research, Infection, COVID-19, epidemics, trust, science, scientist, Economics, Economic Theory, Applied Economics, Econometrics
    Date: 2021–01–01
  2. By: Gavresi, Despina; Litina, Anastasia
    Abstract: This paper explores the interplay between past exposure to macroeconomic shocks and pop-ulist attitudes. We document that individuals who experienced a macroeconomic shock during their impressionable years (between 18 and 25 years of age), are currently more proneto voting for populist parties, and manifest lower trust both in national and European institutions. We use data from the European Social Survey (ESS) to construct the differentialindividual exposure to macroeconomic shocks during impressionable years. Our findings sug-gest that it is not only current exposure to shocks that matters (see e.g., Guiso et al. (2020))but also past exposure to economic recessions, which has a persistent positive effect on therise of populism. Interestingly, the interplay between the two, i.e., past and current exposure to economic shocks, has a mitigating effect on the rise of populism. Individuals who wereexposed to economic shocks in the past are less likely to manifest populist attitudes whenfaced with a current crisis, as suggested by the experience-based learning literature.
    Keywords: Macroeconomic Shocks, Trust, Attitudes, Populism
    JEL: D72 E60 F68 P16 Z13
    Date: 2021–07–25
  3. By: Omar Bamieh (University of Vienna); Andrea Cintolesi (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: We measure the extent to which familism accounts for the intergenerational transmission of jobs in regulated professions. Before 2004, local committees graded the Italian bar exams for lawyers, and after 2004, exams were randomly assigned to external committes for grading. We proxy for family ties with the number of successful candidates sharing a family name and law firm address with an already registered lawyer. We estimate that the number of new entrants with a family tie drops by at least 10 percent, while the number of new lawyers does not change, showing that familism accounts for an important part of the intergenerational transmission in our setting. While we do not find significant differences by gender, familism is stronger in areas with low social capital, which also feature lower rents from licenses.
    Keywords: lawyers, regulated professions, familism.
    JEL: J44 J62
    Date: 2021–10
  4. By: Stefanie Stantcheva
    Abstract: The relationship between the degree of inequality and the demand for redistribution has been a central question in political science and political economy. The famous median-voter model predicts that higher inequality, reflected in a growing gap between the income of the average and the median voter, should lead to increased demand for redistribution, as policymakers cater to the median voter’s preferences (Meltzer and Richard, 1981). Yet, using data from OECD countries, Kenworthy and McCall (2008) show that, despite increases in inequality in those countries, there was no corresponding increase in demand for redistribution. Part of the explanation of this puzzle lies in the realization that it is not only (or even mainly) reality, but perceptions that shape support for policy. This article will explore recent evidence using large-scale social economics surveys and experiments that sheds lights on beliefs about inequality, social mobility, diversity and immigration, social position, and understanding of how policies work.
    JEL: H1 H2 P16
    Date: 2021–10
  5. By: Presler, Jonathan (Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, Saint Louis University)
    Abstract: Using daily lunch transaction data from NYC public schools, I determine which students frequently stand next to one another in the lunch line. I use this `revealed' friendship network to estimate academic peer effects in elementary school classrooms, improving on previous work by defining not only where social connections exist, but the relative strength of these connections. Equally weighting all peers in a reference group assumes that all peers are equally important and may bias estimates by underweighting important peers and overweighting unimportant peers. I find that students who eat together are important influencers of one another's academic performance, with stronger effects in math than in reading. Further exploration of the mechanisms supports my claim that these are friendship networks. I also compare the influence of friends from different periods in the school year and find that connections occurring around standardized testing dates are most influential on test scores.
    Keywords: Peer effect; network; education; lunch line
    JEL: C31 I21
    Date: 2021–06–01
  6. By: Toman Barsbai; Victoria Licuanan; Andreas Steinmayr; Erwin Tiongson; Dean Yang
    Abstract: We study a randomly-assigned program providing information on U.S. settlement for new Filipino immigrants. The intervention, a 2.5-hour pre-departure training and an accompanying paper handbook, has no effect on employment, settlement, and subjective wellbeing, but leads immigrants to acquire substantially fewer social network connections. We rationalize these findings with a simple model, showing that information and social network links are substitutes under reasonable assumptions. Consistent with the model, the treatment reduces social network links more when costs of acquiring network links are lower. Offsetting reductions in the acquisition of social network connections can hence reduce the effectiveness of information interventions.
    Keywords: Immigrant integration, social networks, imperfect information, multiple hypothesis testing
    JEL: D83 F22
    Date: 2021
  7. By: Eduardo de Sá Fortes Leitão Rodrigues
    Abstract: The concept of trust is present in the most different areas of scientific knowledge. Associated with moral and philosophical perspectives, it influences the reputation of public institutions, and interferes with economic performance and welfare. Thus, trust is a complex interpersonal and organizational concept but closely linked to social capital, greasing the wheels of relationships and interaction between agents and public institutions. This article aims to assess the effects of inefficient/unproductive government spending on public trust and whether there is evidence of a trust trap. To investigate these effects, we use dynamic regression models and the Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) approach for panel models of 43 (2006-2019) and 33 (2006-2017) developed and developing countries. To further the investigation, we run panel vector autoregression (PVAR) models with the largest sample (43 countries). Our paper focuses on the response of trust in government to the effect of inefficient public spending and income inequality (GINI index). Moreover, we investigate whether the government's high level of inefficiency interferes with this relationship and whether there is evidence of a trust trap. The findings point to significant adverse effects of inefficient public spending on public trust, providing empirical support, and confirming the assumptions of some theoretical works. Our models indicate a threshold in the relationship between trust and inefficient government spending, that is, a trust trap. In short, to a certain extent, it is possible to regain trust by reducing the inefficiency of public spending. However, after this threshold, the recovery of trust requires a greater effort on the part of governments.
    Keywords: Inefficient Government Spending, Confidence, Social Capital, Trust Trap.
    JEL: C23 H40 D72
    Date: 2021–10
  8. By: Anna Gunnthorsdottir; Palmar Thorsteinsson
    Abstract: In a laboratory experiment we compare voluntary cooperation in Iceland and the US. We furthermore compare the associated thought processes across cultures. The two countries have similar economic performance, but survey measures show that they differ culturally. Our hypotheses are based on two such measures, The Inglehart cultural world map and the Knack and Keefers scale of civic attitudes toward large-scale societal functioning. We prime the participants with different social foci, emphasizing in one a narrow grouping and in the other a larger social unit. In each country we implement this using two different feedback treatments. Under group feedback, participants only know the contributions by the four members of their directly cooperating group. Under session feedback they are informed of the contributions within their group as well as by everyone else in the session. Under group feedback, cooperation levels do not differ between the two cultures. However, under session feedback cooperation levels increase in Iceland and decline in the US. Even when contribution levels are the same members of the two cultures differ in their motives to cooperate: Icelanders tend to cooperate unconditionally and US subjects conditionally. Our findings indicate that different cultures can achieve similar economic and societal performance through different cultural norms and suggest that cooperation should be encouraged through culturally tailored suasion tactics. We also find that some decision factors such as Inequity Aversion do not differ across the two countries, which raises the question whether they are human universals.
    Date: 2021–10

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